Lighting, Decorations, Reviews

Best LED Aquarium Lighting for Plants (Expert picks 2024)

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by Jason Matthews

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Updated:

Our top picks

Best for bright colorsThe Twinstar

The Twinstar is best for lighting bright colors and illuminating all levels of the plant’s coloring, from the main shade to subtle undertones.

Best for high output LED technologyThe Current USA

The Current USA is best for high output LED technology, which results in superior color distribution and healthy plant development.

Best for small tanksThe Chihiros RGB

The Chihiros RGB is perfect for tightly-packed tanks requiring equal lighting distribution.


LED aquarium lights are becoming increasingly popular among plant enthusiasts. There are many benefits to using LED lighting for your plants since LEDs use much less energy than regular incandescent bulbs and produce very little heat.

LEDs also offer a wide range of light intensities and colors so that you can customize the light spectrum for your plants. The essential factor in choosing the best LED aquarium lighting for plants is light intensity.

PAR, or photosynthetically active radiation, measures the amount of light available for plants to use for photosynthesis. Generally speaking, higher PAR values are better for plant growth.

When choosing an LED aquarium light for your plants, it is vital to consider the color spectrum. The ideal light spectrum for plants is between 400 and 700 nanometers. 

This range of colors includes blue, which is necessary for healthy plant growth, and red, which promotes flowering.

In general, LED aquarium lights with a higher ratio of blue to red light are better for plant growth, while those with a higher proportion of red to blue light are better for promoting flowering.

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Best LED Aquarium Light Fixtures for Plants

These light fixtures are great for aquariums with live plants, such as carpet plants. They provide the intense light that plants need to thrive, along with a wide range of colors to bring out the natural beauty of your plant collection.

These units are energy efficient and offer a variety of color options, so you can customize the light for your particular plants.

Twinstar B-Series LED Light — Best for Bright Colors

★★★★★

Twinstar B-Series LED Light

  • RGB LED light for fish and planted aquariums.
  • Slim profile design.
  • Legs are extendable.
  • Power adapter included

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The light spectrum is suitable for vivid and bright colors. In addition, the LED delivers optimum lighting for your plants. Fish hues appear brighter than ever under this light.

The new LED, which is more efficient and produces more light, offers a range of wavelengths from 400nm to 700nm, ensuring the perfect amount of light for plant development.

LED lights are a good fit for many rimless aquariums, including UNS and ADA models. Sleek design with LED lifespan of 30,000 hours. 

Features 

  • LED-optimized lighting
  • 400nm to 700nm light wavelength
  • Lifespan of 30,000 hours

Current USA SereneSun Pro RGB LED — Best for Color Distribution

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SereneSun Pro delivers bright color and stunning luster in a modern, feature-rich light system.

This light fixture uses sophisticated high output LED technology and HDR color to provide impressive color distribution across an aquatic environment.

When paired with spherical lenses, the high output LEDs provide high PAR levels that are great for robust plant growth.

You can adjust the RGB+W color spectrum to produce an infinite number of spectrum and intensity variants. This unit generates up to 100 PAR at an 18-inch depth, which is ideal for many freshwater plants.

A 24-hour timer function lets you program what time to begin a sunrise, sunset, and the color spectrum and intensity of daylight and moonlight patterns.

Features

  • High-output LED and HDR color
  • 100 PAR level
  • 18-inch depth
  • 24-hour timer function

Chihiros RGB Aquarium LED Light — Best for Tightly-Packed Tanks

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This fixture is an LED series that serves the full-color range of aquatic plants using various colored LEDs. It’s ideal for densely planted tanks and plants that require a lot of light. This design enhances red, green, and blue colors.

You can program this system with the “My Chihiros App,” which provides complete control over the red, green, and blue color channels and customizable daily patterns.

This light system is waterproof and can sit above open tanks.

Features

  • Various-colored LEDs
  • Programmable system
  • “My Chihiros App”
  • Waterproof

Fluval Plant 3.0 LED — Best for Patterns and Cycles

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This light features customizable 24-hour cycle patterns (sunrise, midday, sunset, and evening).

HTE (high thermal efficiency) LEDs work at a higher temperature, increasing the amount of light created. You can configure habitat light settings like Tropical and Planted.

A 120-degree light dispersion covers the entire aquarium and provides even light coverage.

You can adjust the mounting hardware to fit various aquarium widths.

Features

  • Configurable habitat light settings
  • 120-degree light dispersion
  • Adjustable mounting hardware

Hygger 36W 24/7 Lighting Aquarium LED — Best for Plant Growth

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This light fixture uses WRGB LEDs, and the three primary colors mimic natural light. This unit encourages plant growth and makes the water look cleaner.

You can customize eight time periods with a start time, end time, brightness, and light color. You can transition the brightness between 10% and 100% and set night mode to various colors.

The Hygger comes with a wired controller and LCD Monitor. The controller allows you to set the light timer for 24-hour cycles. The LCD shows the time, mode, start time, end time, light color, and brightness.

Features

  • WRGB LEDs
  • Brightness transitions between 10% and 100%
  • Waterproof
  • Wired controller and LCD Monitor

Current USA Satellite Freshwater LED — Best for Enhancing Appearances

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This fixture is known for creating spectacular lighting displays. The Satellite LED features a refined aluminum design and wireless controller.

White LEDs and wide-spectrum RGB LEDs create rich color tapestries that enhance the appearance of your aquarium.

You can control colors, timing, and light cycles with the remote. Sunrise, sunset, midday, and moonlit night are just some of the programs you can use. Connecting speakers and additional lighting to the unit will create even more stunning scenes.

Features

  • Wireless controller
  • Wide-spectrum RGB LEDs
  • Aluminum design

Finnex Planted+ 24/7 LED — Best for Dynamic Landscapes

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The Finnex Planted+ 24/7 Version 2 LED fixture creates a brilliant sunrise and sunset effect on top of your aquarium.

This unit allows you to save custom color patterns to different time slots. The 24/7 feature begins at dawn, shifts to sunrise, and moves to noon, sunset, and starry night.

A redesigned remote comes with the fixture. The hidden sensor on the light creates a streamlined and elegant control interface.

Features

  • 24/7 cycle simulator
  • Programmable colors
  • Hidden light sensor

NICREW SkyLED — Best for Freshwater Plants

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Ultra-bright white LEDs and 450nm blue and 660nm red LEDs create full-spectrum lighting that encourages plant growth.

Adjustable legs allow for installation on aquariums 18–24 inches wide. This unit is not waterproof, so a protective shield is recommended.

This system works well with freshwater plants requiring medium light levels.

Features

  • 450nm blue and 660nm red LEDs
  • Adjustable day and night settings
  • 18–24 inches wide

BeamsWork DA FSPEC LED — Best for Tight Budgets

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This light fixture comes installed with the following spectrum LEDs: Green 520nm, Red 620nm, Actinic 460nm, and 10000K.

Two-phase functionality provides full power with daytime settings and, at night, moonlight mode. Included hardware allows this light to fit on a variety of aquariums.

A timer sells separately, letting you adjust both channels’ time and intensity. The timer will gradually increase or decrease the led light intensity over a specified time.

Features

  • Green, red, actinic, and 10000K LEDs
  • Two-phase functionality
  • Daylight and moonlight modes

COODIA Aquarium Hood Lighting — Best for Expanding Tanks

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Various colors and lighting modes are perfect for growing aquarium plants. Brackets slide to accommodate aquariums from 19–28 inches in length.

The remote control works through walls and from different rooms. Lights can be programmed or dimmed using this controller.

Features

  • Sliding brackets
  • Multiple colors and lighting modes
  • Programmable lights

Koval Aquarium Lighting Fish Tank Light Hood — Best for Lighting Endurance

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Five color bright full-spectrum LEDs last for a minimum of 50,000 hours. This fixture is not bright enough for saltwater tanks and is not waterproof.

Broken LEDs do not impact the operation of the remaining lights. This is not a color-changing light. This light provides adequate light penetration in deep tanks.

Features

  • Lighting that lasts 50,000 hours or more
  • Five colors
  • Uninterrupted operation

Kessil A160WE Controllable LED — Best for Quick Plant Growth

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Shimmer lights create an impressive display of colors that encourages rapid plant growth. Good plants for this light include anubias, cryptocorynes, and java ferns.

The light penetrates to the bottom of deep tanks. The output resembles natural sunlight, and it is hard to make these lights dim.

The A160WE is one of the most popular LED aquarium lights for freshwater planted tanks. It uses a combination of 80% blue and 20% white LEDs to produce a bright light that penetrates deep into the water column.

Features

  • 80/20 blue-to-white LED
  • Light spectrum calibration
  • Bright lighting effects

Aqueon Freshwater Aquarium Clip-On LED — Easy Installation

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Mounting hardware provides effortless installation on a variety of aquariums. This budget-friendly light includes on/off control of 21 bright LEDs.

A classy thin profile does not distract from your aquarium. This light works best with freshwater tanks up to 20 gallons.

This unit is a good option for those who don’t want a long light fixture covering the top of the aquarium.

This Aqueon is a small light, so you may require more than one unit for large tanks. This light could get hot if left powered on for long periods.

Features

  • 21 LEDs
  • Mounting hardware
  • Budget-friendly

Buyer’s Guide

lighting for aquarium plants

People once only used LEDs for decoration and mood lighting in aquariums. But because they have become more energy-efficient, LEDs are becoming increasingly popular as the primary light source for planted tanks.

When choosing LED systems, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider.




Type of Plants
Different plants require different amounts of light. For example, low-light plants such as ferns and mosses only need a few hours of light daily. In contrast, high-light plants such as stem and sun-loving plants need 8 to 12 hours of light per day.


Size of Tank
The size of your tank will affect the amount of light your plants need. The larger the tank, the more light your plants will need because larger tanks have more water and are more reflective.


Budget
You can spend between $30 and $500 on an LED system. In addition to helping your plants grow, you need to consider longevity. Spending a bit more initially can save you from having to replace a lower-quality unit. 



Amount of Light
The amount of light your plants need depends on the type of aquarium lighting you use. For example, full-spectrum LEDs provide a more comprehensive range of colors, which is ideal for plant growth. Whereas white LEDs are better for plant growth and coloration.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are some of the most commonly asked questions about LED aquarium lighting for plants.

Can I use normal light bulbs for my aquarium?

No. Some aquarium plants can do well with regular household incandescent or fluorescent lights, but most need special LED lighting designed for growing plants.

Is the intensity of the light important? 

Yes. Check the PAR value to determine the amount of light that reaches the plant for photosynthesis. Verify this value matches the requirements of the plants you plan to grow.  

What is light spread? 

The spread is the width of the area that the light covers. A wider spread means more plants will receive adequate light.

Do I need to think about light spectrum?

Yes. Depending on the type of plants you have, you’ll need to customize the light spectrum used in the LEDs.

About

Jason Matthews

My name is Jason Matthews, and welcome to my website. When other kids were bragging about how their dog could sit and roll over, I was bragging about my latest Betta Fish and the cool sea castle I just added to his aquarium. 

Jason aquariume

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